There are several players who were injured last year, and you may be wondering what their status is for the upcoming season. Here are some updates to help you prepare for your drafts.
Alex Bregman – Astros: Bregman recently underwent an arthroscopic removal of loose bodies from his right elbow. There are some basics you need to know. What are loose bodies exactly? Loose bodies occur in joints and are small pieces of bone and or cartilage in the joint space. To remove them, an arthroscopy is done and they are removed. This is a relatively minor procedure using 2 or 3 small incisions. There is very little to heal here except where the incisions were made. As long as nothing else was done (repairing cartilage, trimming bone or cartilage), Bregman should be ready to go for opening day.
Eloy Jimenez – White Sox: Jimenez was shut down at the end of winter ball due to a quad injury. Unless it lingers, I don’t foresee any issue here and he should show you what he has in spring training.
Gregory Polanco – Pirates: Polanco dislocated his shoulder in September. He had surgery, but I do not know exactly what was done. This is probably something similar to what Michael Conforto went through last offseason. Conforto had surgery a month or two earlier than Polanco and was ready right around opening day. Polanco just started hitting off a tee on January 7th. His quoted timetable states a June return, but it could be earlier than that. Take that into account when deciding upon rostering him.
I’m going to group the next three players together and shed some light on knee scopes.
Avisail Garcia – Rays: He had a knee scope in October, which was reported as successful and not requiring a lengthy recovery. Most likely a cartilage debridement. Should be ready for spring training.
Mark Trumbo – Orioles: He had a knee scope in September to repair cartilage. Recovery is usually around 6 months. Keep an eye on him during spring training and see when and if he plays. These can be troublesome – see the next player…..
Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox: Pedroia had the same surgery Trumbo had…in 2017… and was limited to a total of 30 ABs including his minor league rehab stint in 2018. The Red Sox expect him back this year, but be warned. If the knee was balky this whole time, I don’t foresee smooth sailing.
So what’s the difference between having a debridement and a repair? All cartilage tears are not created equal. They vary in size, and more importantly in location. (posterior vs. anterior and lateral vs. medial)
The meniscus (cartilage) is the cushion between your femur and tibia bones in your knee-joint. When it tears, the loose flap of cartilage can get stuck between the bones and cause discomfort. Discomfort also comes from the cushioning system not working correctly, and pain occurs when the bones make direct contact. So there are two options to fix a tear. Debride the cartilage, which means cut out the piece that’s torn, or repair it, which means sew it back together. Debriding is actually the more common procedure and here’s why. Cartilage has little to no blood supply, and it does not heal very well. There are only certain types, locations, and sizes of cartilage tears that lend themselves to repair.
Repairs take a long time to heal. The patient is usually non weight-bearing for several weeks following a repair. Following a debridement, only the incision has to heal and the swelling reduce. Look at how fast Joe Mixon made it back this year following his knee scope. So Avisail Garcia should be ok. There are other factors, of course, that will determine how the player does.
I would venture a guess that Pedroia has an arthritis issue also causing constant pain when he runs or cuts. Arthritis is when the cartilage that covers the bone comes off and leaves the bone bare. This is a different type of cartilage, and again, one that is very difficult to repair. Think Daniel Murphy. They can play through it, but at times it will act up.
The following is a list of pitchers who had Tommy John surgery (repair of the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow) and their expected timetables.
- Taijuan Walker – Diamondbacks: Possible return around the All Star break. Surgery was in April 2018
- Lance McCullers – Astros: Out for 2019
- Dinelson Lamet – Padres: like Walker, possible mid-season return
- Garrett Richards – Padres: Out for 2019
- Johnny Cueto – Giants: Out for 2019
- Didi Gregorius – Yankees: Oh, he’s not a pitcher, but he may return by mid-season after TJ and we can’t leave out the AL ROY Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, being the uniquely gifted pitcher/hitter, has a chance at an early season return as a DH. I find it unlikely he’ll pitch in the majors this season.
Two pitchers had shoulder surgery/issues who may or may not return this year. Danny Salazar did not have surgery, but is thought to be doubtful for the start of the season and may be relegated to the bullpen upon his return. Sean Manaea had surgery in September and is deemed a long shot to return this year.
As the year goes on I’ll cover injuries as they occur and help give you an idea if the player is worth keeping on your bench if you don’t have DL spots available. If you have any questions about any other players, feel free to ask in the comment section or hit me up on twitter @gasdoc_spit.